Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills, as the same suggests are used to prevent pregnancy. Medically also known as oral contraceptives. These pills are hormonal combinations and are usually a combination of the hormones progestin and estrogen, or progestin alone. Hormones progestin and estrogen inhibit the release of the hormones FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Luteinzing Hormone) from the pituitary gland in the brain. Both LH and FSH play a vital role in the development of the egg and the implantation of embryo.
Types of Birth Control Pills
Different kinds of birth control pills are readily available in the market. Basically all these are made from different combinations of progestin and estrogen, and are called as monophasic, biphasic, triphasic.
Monophasic birth control pills- These pills are used to deliver same amounts of progestin and estrogen on a regular basis.
Biphasic birth control pills- These pills deliver same amounts of progestin and estrogen every single day for the first 21 days of the menstruation cycle. For the first half of the cycle the estrogen/progestin ratio is low so that uterus lining thickens normally. For the second half of the cycle the ratio is made higher so that the lining gets to shed normally.
Triphasic birth control pills- These pills have varying progestin concentrations throughout the menstruation cycle.
How do birth control pills work?
The basic principle of birth control pills is the prevention of ovulation through regulation of hormones. With no availability of an egg to be fertilized there is no chance of pregnancy.
With the onset of menstruation cycle the levels of estrogen hormone rise. Estrogen helps in the thickening of the uterus lining, and hence the preparation of a fertilized egg. As two weeks pass in the menstruation cycle the estrogen levels are at their highest, and then either of the ovaries releases one or more eggs (this process is called ovulation).
Once ovulation is over progesterone- which is also a hormone involved in the reproductive process- rises to thicken the lining of the uterus, hence enabling it to take in a fertilized egg. Once the egg successfully passes through the fallopian tubes and reaches the uterus, it implants itself into the uterine lining and conception occurs. On the other hand if the levels of both progesterone and estrogen drop the uterine lining is shed and pregnancy doesn’t take place.
Birth control pills can be considered as the synthetic forms of hormones estrogen and progesterone. Hence, they help in maintaining consistency of the hormones in the body. By preventing the hormones to peak the ovary doesn’t releases an egg. With no egg there is no ovulation and hence no pregnancy. Other than regulating hormones the pills also thicken the cervical mucus so that the sperm is unable to reach the egg.
Pros of Using Birth Control Pills
- High Effectiveness- Birth control pills can prevent pregnancy about 99 percent of the time. In fact, the pills are more reliable than most other forms of contraceptive methods including condoms.
- Acne Reduction- Birth control pills, just like other hormone based method help in the reduction of androgen levels, which in turn helps in the elimination of acne.
- Cancer Prevention- Several studies have revealed that long term usage of birth control pills can drastically reduce the chances of thyroid and ovarian cancer development.
- Cost and Accessibility- Birth control pills are quite inexpensive, and are readily available at most pharmacy stores.
- Improved Menstrual Cycle- Since birth control pills regulate the reproductive hormones, they also tend to bring consistency and improvement in the menstrual cycle by minimizing bleeding and cramps.
Cons of Using Birth Control Pills
- Blood Clots- The chances of developing blood clots increase by three times as a woman takes birth control pills. The odds are even higher if the woman is a smoker.
- Weight Gain- Birth Control Pills are infamous for causing weight gain. It is because of the same reason many women prefer other kinds of pregnancy prevention methods.
- PMS- Birth control pills can also make PMS symptoms worse, especially when it comes to emotional stability. Symptoms such as depression and mood swings can become intensified.
- Reduced B Vitamins- B vitamins play a vital role in the hormonal balance as they are directly linked with the functioning of neuro-endocrine system.
- Breast Cancer- While no concrete link has been testified yet, a few studies showed that the use of birth control pills can elevate the developmental likelihood of breast cancer. The data are mixed, and hence medical experts do not assert the results.
- Reduced Sex Drive- With the use of birth control pills a woman may experience low libido.